Poetry Analysis Essay on Claude McKay's America: Love & Mixed Feelings in 1921

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  609 Words
Date:  2023-04-08


Claude McKay, an African American, wrote the poem "America" in 1921 at a time when African Americans were going through numerous challenges. It was a time of the Harlem Renaissance and Great Migration when African-Americans were moving the rural areas to the cities in the north following harsh economic environments, stringent segregationist regulations. McKay uses the poem to express his mixed feelings and complex attitude on America. He remains loyal to America, loves the country despite the many challenges, and embarks on a journey of advocating for change in America through artistic work. The paper analyses the poem based on the primary theme, attitude, and creative elements.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

McKay shows a mixed attitude and reactions to America in the poem. He uses harsh terms to describe the country, yet he maintains that he has endless love and will continue to love the country. For example, he uses the phrase "a cultured hell" to indicate that he felt like the sufferings in America were comparable to those of hell (McKay 107). However, he admits that his love and admiration for the country reigns in this love-hate relationship. America is the new home to Claude McKay, where he has developed hard feelings. Therefore, he is determined to change the new home regardless of the problems that the country shoves to him in the process.

In this poem, McKay optimizes the use of elements like original diction, metaphors, similes, and personification in an attempt t explain the life struggles of America, especially for the African-Americans in the 1920s. McKay uses personification by referring to America as "her," for example, in the line, "although she feeds me bread of bitterness" (McKay 107). He also states that "her deed" to portray the actions of injustices in America at that time. The personification in the text is essential in enhancing the reader's connection with the situation. It also helps McKay to communicate his attitude and tone.

The primary theme in the poem is fighting the challenges head-on and fight through them, especially in a home setting. McKay develops ideas using various artistic elements. One of the elements used throughout the poem is diction. For instance, he uses the element in the phrase "sinks into my throat" and the choice of words like "bitterness" in the poem (McKay 106). The reader understands the disgust, pain, and despair that McKay experiences in America at that time being an African American. When McKay wrote the poem, there was lots of prejudice, discrimination and racism.

A metaphor is another artistic feature in the poem. Some of the metaphors in the poem include "bread of bitterness" and "stealing my breath of life" (McKay 106). McKay uses metaphors to show that the conditions in America were exhausting and hard to keep up with, affecting his confidence and well-being. The use of these metaphors indicates that beneath the challenges, there was still something to treasure and work for in America. McKay depends on America for his survival despite the challenging environment.


In conclusion, McKay in the poem illustrates that America is a great country that he relishes in his youth. He shows mixed reactions of love and hate for the country. He despises the injustices and discriminations in the country. The poem indicates that McKay feels insignificant living in America but struggles and persevere to survive in the country. McKay uses various artistic elements to communicate his attitude for America. Some of the features include metaphors, similes, and personification. He uses a bitter and sad tone at the beginning of the poem and later on translates to a tone of hope for changes in America.

Work Cited

McKay, Claude. "Six Poems from Harlem Shadows." Manoa 31.2 (2019): 106-108.

Cite this page

Poetry Analysis Essay on Claude McKay's America: Love & Mixed Feelings in 1921. (2023, Apr 08). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/poetry-analysis-essay-on-claude-mckays-america-love-mixed-feelings-in-1921

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism